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Lesson 15: Basic Improvisation Exercises Part 2

As we continue our journey into improvisation, we’re going to take a small step forward. This time, you’ll be adding not just one, but two improvised notes to our exercises. While the first three bars of each exercise will stay as written, you’ll have the opportunity to experiment with improvisation in the last bar.

Here’s How to Approach It:

  1. Choice of Notes: Feel free to use any of the first five notes of the A minor scale (A B C D E) for your improvised section.
  2. Maintaining the Flow: Aim to play continuously for at least one minute without losing the beat. Pay special attention to transitioning smoothly from the fourth bar back to the first bar. This seamless looping is crucial for maintaining the rhythm and flow of the piece.
  3. Finishing the Exercise: Once you’ve completed your minute of improvisation, end the exercise by playing an A note with both hands. This creates a sense of closure and resolution.

Video Demonstration: In the accompanying video, you’ll find a brief demonstration of these exercises. I’ve kept the demonstration concise to encourage you to explore and discover the vast possibilities in the improvised section on your own.

Have fun with this exercise! Remember, improvisation is about exploration and personal expression, so let your creativity flow and see where it takes you.

Common Mistake in Basic Improvisation Exercises: Overemphasis on Music Theory

The Misconception: A common problem faced by students during this exercise is the belief that a deep understanding of music theory is essential to choose the 'right' note for improvisation. This belief can come from a fear of playing the 'wrong' note or creating disharmony.

Personal Experience: This reminds me of my own journey. I spent years delving into music theory with the same concern, believing that more theoretical knowledge was the key to better improvisation. But no matter how much knowledge I acquired, the hesitation in improvisation remained the same.

The Realization: Improvisation is About Experimentation, Not Perfection

Theory Isn’t Everything: While music theory can explain every note and its relationships, it's not a prerequisite to being a good improviser. Improvisation is about trying out different notes and seeing what you like – it’s about experimenting and having fun with the music.

Just Play: The most effective way to improve at improvisation is to simply do it. Experiment by playing any of the first 5 notes of the A minor scale (A B C D E) along with the exercise. Remember, there's no right or wrong note here – it's all about what pleases your ear. And remember, being overly critical of your choices, even the good ones, is a common trap. Allow yourself the freedom to explore without self-judgment.

Enjoy Every Note: Embrace each note you play, free from the constraints of theory. This approach not only fosters creativity but also enhances your enjoyment of playing music. When you start to appreciate every note, regardless of its theoretical correctness, you open up a world of creative possibilities and find more joy in your musical journey.